USB drives are great for storing data that you need to swap between computers or just as a quick and easy off-site backup. But sometimes the files you’re storing are sensitive and contain data that you’d rather was only seen by people you know. Maybe it’s company files. Maybe it’s a project you’re working on. Whatever the reason, there comes a time when you need to have a password protecting your USB drive.
With Windows having been around for years, you’d have thought that this kind of functionality would be built in by now. After all, you can’t be the only person who wants to protect your files from prying eyes.
But even as recent as version 7, Windows doesn’t have any kind of built-in password protection for drives or directories or files. Which means that you’re going to be reliant on other people’s programs to do the work for you.
The only thing you can do in Windows is to hide a file or folder using its properties. But that won’t stop anyone who is even vaguely determined getting to your files.
Which means the only other option is to find some USB password protection software to limit access to the various files on your USB stick.
A quick Google search will bring up lots of different programs. Some of them free, some of them “kind of” free (meaning that they will do basic stuff but any nice functionality comes at an extra price) and some of them are just honest and charge money right from the start.
If you’re like most people, you’ll think of free first and foremost!
And if you’re a fully fledged techie, chances are that will be good enough.
But if you’ve been brought up on nice looking programs then you may find that these free programs are more aimed at the kind of people who have been using computers since the days of the dinosaurs. You’ll need to check out how your chosen program looks and works to see whether it’s easy and inuitive to use or whether you’d need a degree as a computer programmer before you could even attempt password protecting your USB drive.
As you’d expect, paid for programs are also common.
Again, some of them need a lot of learning before they become useful – not good for a program that should be simple and easy to use. Others do exactly what you expect and will do the job of password protecting a USB stick with minimal hassle – much as programs like Excel and Word allow you to quickly and easily add password protection to files.
Check out the provenance of any program you consider using. You don’t want it to be running any additional spyware or similar programs that could potentially send your precious data off to some far flung place. It’s not likely but you definitely don’t want to run the risk of that happening either.
Ideally, choose a program that has either a demo version or a video showing you how it works. This will make the job of choosing software for password protecting your USB drive easier.